Jimmy Castor, a New York funk and soul saxophonist, singer and songwriter whose tune “It’s Just Begun” morphed over 40 years into an anthem for generations of hip-hoppers and mainstream musical acts, died Monday of apparent heart failure in a Las Vegas hospital. He was 71.
Castor had undergone quadruple bypass surgery suffering a heart attack in November.
Castor’s music, including another 1972 hit, “Troglodyte,” spoke for itself in thousands of riffs and samples by groups like N.W.A., the 2 Live Crew, Kanye West, Ice Cube and Mos Def, as well as acts such as the Spice Girls, Christina Aguilera and Madonna.
His son, Jimmy Castor Jr., a filmmaker from Redondo Beach, Calif., told the Associated Press he’s seen instant recognition hundreds of times at the first sax chords of “It’s Just Begun” — even before the lyrics begin. (“Watch me now. Feel the groove. Into something. Gonna make you move.”)
“No matter what country you’re in, no matter what language you speak, everyone knows it,” Jimmy Castor Jr. said in Las Vegas.
Castor, head of the musical group the Jimmy Castor Bunch, lived with his wife, Sandi, in suburban Henderson near Las Vegas.
He continued to work and perform until last August, when he played at the Long Beach Funk Festival in California. Jimmy Castor Jr. said his father had booked dates for a European tour this year.